I was never sure if it was the conservative LDS values or the old-fashioned ideas of modesty that played a bigger part in creating my high school’s dress code, but when the principal went as far as banning leggings and lace shirts, it felt as if the decision was coming from both.
Despite whatever prompted the strict (and ridiculous) rules, my school was well-known for its dress code policies. This was a school that blamed a girl’s outfit for the action and reaction of male students. Instead of teaching the boys to be courteous or respectful toward women, our school taught us to cover up.
It seemed to them that covering up would solve all the problems. Besides, young women should not be dressing like that anyway.
Society still doesn’t seem to understand: A woman can dress however she wants. The clothes she wears—or the lack thereof—is not to be controlled by anyone other than herself. Nobody has the right to tell her otherwise and absolutely nobody has the right to pass judgement or belittle her for making those choices.
Despite the negative stigma that has somehow correlated clothing and personality, a woman should not and cannot be fairly judged based on what she wears. Just because she chooses to wear shorts and a tank top does not mean she is “asking for it.” It does not mean she wants you to check her out. It does not even mean that she is promiscuous or slutty. Surprisingly, the clothes she wears should not ever be directly associated with her sexuality.
Every woman should have the ability to express themselves in whatever way they desire—especially if it makes her feel pretty. What gives anybody the right to make her feel otherwise?
Here is yet another thing that many men, and society, have still never realized: A woman does not dress for you. She does not dress to hear your cat calls. She does not dress to hear you whistle. She especially does not dress for you to call her a slut or a skank. She does not dress so others can judge her. A woman chooses her clothing based on what she wants to wear. She dresses that way because she freakin’ wants to.
Women should also not be subjugated to body shaming or body stereotyping, which means that your opinions on what looks good is irrelevant. It is not up to you to decide that she is “too big” to be wearing that. It is not up to you to stare, compare and judge. And absolutely nothing else should change the way a girl feels about herself and her appearance. Confidence is rare and courage is admirable; taking that away from someone is judgmental, cruel and unfair.
Despite the length of her shorts or the tightness of her shirt, what a woman wears should not and does not need to be accepted by anyone. It is up to no one to decide what looks good, it is up to no one to tell her to cover up and absolutely no one has the right to make her question her appearance.
Unless she asks for your input, your opinion is irrelevant.
This means that during the upcoming summer months, when the weather is hot and the humidity is high, you should expect to see women of all shapes and sizing wearing the clothes they feel the most comfortable and the most beautiful in.
She will not expect to be treated as sexual object (whistling will get you smacked faster than it will get you laid). You will not see her looking to you for acceptance. She will not cover up if she sees your disapproving stare. And she will not beg you for compliment to reinforce her confidence.
She will simply be hoping that the sun doesn’t leave an awkward tan line.